Archived Story

Administrators refute statement made by former superintendent

Published 8:54am Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Letter writers knowingly endorsed ‘no confidence’

Former Supt. Richard Weigel
Former Supt. Richard Weigel

In contradiction to a recent statement made by former Niles Community Schools Supt. Richard Weigel to an Eastern Michigan newspaper, the 15 school employees who signed a letter indicating they had no confidence in Weigel’s leadership say they knew the details of the allegations they were endorsing.

The letter, which was sent to the Niles school board prior to Weigel’s resignation in February, was signed by the majority of the district’s principals and administrators — 15 in all.

It listed several complaints about Weigel, including that he bullied several administrators and created a hostile work environment.

In an article published Friday by the Times Herald, Weigel said many of the principals didn’t know what they were signing because the signatures were collected on a sheet of paper separate from the letter itself.

On Tuesday, the Niles Daily Star asked all 15

signees, via email, if they did, in fact, know what they were signing.

All responded that they did, many with more than just a “yes” answer.

“I was the second one to sign it,” said Chris Porter, assistant principal at Niles High. “It was very clear what we were signing.”

“Yes, I knew exactly what I was signing,” said Rich Klemm, director of non-traditional education.

Weigel also told the Times Herald that his resignation was caused by a school board member and his wife, who is a principal in the district.

He may have been referring to Jeff Curry, a member of the school board, and his wife, Diane, who is principal at Southside School in the Niles district.

“I don’t know if he was (referring to us). I haven’t spoken to him,” Jeff Curry said. “To think 15 people with master’s degrees plus would sign a blank piece of paper not knowing what they are signing is beyond me.”

Also in the Times Herald article, Weigel said an investigation was conducted after he left, which he contends generated a report was never made public because it vindicated him.

When asked about this report, Niles Interim Superintendent Michael Lindley confirmed that a report was completed after Weigel had resigned, but disagreed with the former superintendent’s reason for why it hasn’t been made public.

“It’s never been released because it’s considered attorney/client privileged information,” Lindley said.

Lindley said he and school members are the only people who have read the report and that Weigel must have heard the results second-hand from someone who read it.

“I think he’s making bold statements and he is regarding only one section, and the investigation was much broader than that,” Lindley said.

In light of Weigel’s comments to the newspaper, Lindley said he informed school board members that they could pursue waiving their attorney/client privileged information rights on the report, which could make it available through a Freedom of Information Act request.

School Board President Kathy Zeider said school board members did not discuss taking that course of action during Monday’s regular meeting. Zeider said she could not talk any more about the issue.

Lindley did offer his perspective on the board’s collective decision.

“In my emails and talking individually, the board decided that they should take the high road,” Lindley siad. “We want to move on. We don’t want to get into a he-said she-said thing in the newspaper or anywhere else. We want our attention to be on educating kids.”

Weigel is a finalist for the job of Port Huron Area School District superintendent.

He has declined on several occasions to speak to the Niles Daily Star about issues surrounding his resignation.

 

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